The US Department of Justice appointed former FBI director Robert Mueller as a special counsel to lead a federal investigation into allegations that US President Donald Trump’s campaign team collaborated with Russia to sway last year’s election that put him in the White House.
Mueller is to have sweeping powers and the authority to prosecute any crimes he uncovers.
Trump tweeted that it is “the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!”
The surprise announcement to hand the investigation over to Mueller, a lawman with deep bipartisan respect, was a striking shift for the Justice Department, which had resisted increasingly loud calls from Democrats for an outside prosecutor. It immediately escalated the legal stakes — and the potential political damage — for a president who has tried to dismiss the matter as partisan witch hunt and a “hoax.”
In a second Twitter post yesterday, Trump said: “With all of the illegal acts that took place in the Clinton campaign & Obama Administration, there was never a special councel [sic] appointed.”
The announcement, the latest in the shock-a-day Washington saga, was made by US Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
The White House counsel’s office was alerted only after the order appointing Mueller was signed, said a senior White House official, who was not authorized to speak publicly by name and commented only on condition of anonymity.
In a written statement, Trump insisted anew there were no nefarious ties between his campaign and Russia.
“A thorough investigation will confirm what we already know — there was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity,” he said. “I look forward to this matter concluding quickly.”
Mueller’s broad mandate gives him not only oversight of the Russia probe, but also “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.”
That would surely include Trump’s firing last week of FBI director James Comey.
Mueller, a former federal prosecutor, was confirmed as FBI director days before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that would ultimately shape his tenure. The FBI’s counterterrorism mission was elevated in those years, as the US intelligence agencies adjusted to better position the US to prevent another attack of such magnitude.
He was so valued that then-US president Barack Obama asked him to stay on two years longer than his 10-year term.
Mueller was appointed on Wednesday by Rosenstein, who had faced criticism as the author of a memo that preceded Comey’s firing.
Rosenstein said the appointment was “necessary in order for the American people to have full confidence in the outcome.”
NPP WARNING: The NPP’s chairman said that a security law proposed by Beijing means it has renounced its promise to maintain ‘one country, two systems’ in HK The Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) yesterday proposed changing the law to provide protection for those seeking political asylum. China at the opening of the National People’s Congress in Beijing on Thursday introduced a draft security law for Hong Kong to ban treason, subversion and sedition, with a review expected next week. TPP caucus whip Jang Chyi-lu (張其祿) said that the party is concerned about democracy advocates in Hong Kong and has taken action to support them. The party has proposed an amendment to Article 18 of the Act Governing Relations with Hong Kong and Macau (香港澳門關係條例), which stipulates that the government can offer
The number of people from Hong Kong applying for residency in Taiwan last year rose 41 percent from a year earlier to 5,858, National Immigration Agency statistics showed. The statistics also showed that 600 applications were filed by Hong Kong residents in the first quarter of this year — three times the number filed in the same period last year — with applicants apparently not deterred by the COVID-19 pandemic. Just one day after it was reported that the Chinese government plans to enact new national security laws in Hong Kong, inquiries regarding immigration to Taiwan grew 10-fold, a Hong Kong-based immigration
‘BEGINNING OF THE END’: Democracy advocate Joshua Wong urged Hong Kongers to stand up and fight, and let the Chinese government know that they will not cave Hong Kong protesters yesterday battled with riot police in busy downtown areas, showing their opposition toward China’s dramatic move to crack down on dissent in the biggest demonstration since the coronavirus swept through the territory in January. Police deployed a water cannon and fired tear gas in the Causeway Bay shopping area after hundreds of protesters had gathered to oppose new national security legislation from China. Police warned the crowd they were taking part in an illegal gathering, and later said in a statement that “rioters threw umbrellas, water bottles and other objects at them.” At least 120 people were arrested,
‘TAIWAN IS SAFE’: As there have been no new local cases for 42 days, people should feel free to travel around the nation — as long as they follow disease prevention rules No new cases of COVID-19 were reported yesterday and only 20 of the people hospitalized after testing positive are still being treated in hospitals, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said yesterday in Pingtung County’s Kenting (墾丁) as he promoted a “new disease prevention lifestyle” for the nation. As yesterday was the 42nd consecutive day with no new domestic cases, and experts consider 28 consecutive days with no domestic case — the span of two incubation periods — a sign that a community is relatively safe, Taiwan is safe, said Chen, who heads the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC),